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Who should we give credit for considering the possibility of Black Hole?

  1. Sep 29, 2014 #1
    General Relativity predicted existence of Black holes. The theory of general relativity predicts that a sufficiently compact mass will deform spacetime to form a black hole. But The Chandrasekhar limit is the maximum mass of a stable white dwarf star. White dwarfs with masses greater than the limit undergo further gravitational collapse, evolving into a different type of stellar remnant, such as a neutron star or black hole. This limit was initially ignored by the community of scientists because such a limit would logically require the existence of black holes, which were considered a scientific impossibility at the time.

    So who should we give credit for being able to consider the possibility of Black Hole Einstein or Chandrasekhar or
    John Michell in 1783 (Much before Einstein or Chandrasekhar)?

    Since Michell suggested that if there were an object with 500 times the radius of the sun, but with the sun’s average density, then its escape velocity would be faster than the speed of light.
     
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  3. Sep 29, 2014 #2

    Matterwave

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    The existence of the Chandrasekhar limit does not imply black holes. As you even stated in your post, a neutron star might form if the stellar remnant exceeds the Chandrasekhar limit. The limit for neutron stars is the Tolman-Oppenheimer-Volkov limit.

    However, this question is not a physics question, but a history of science question. Who we "should" give credit to for "considering the possibility of a black hole" I think is not important. I think it's sufficient to know that Chandrasekhar came up with a limiting mass for a white dwarf, and that Einstein came up with General Relativity, and that's enough. If you asked me personally to pick somebody, I would probably pick Schwarzschild.
     
  4. Sep 29, 2014 #3

    atyy

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  5. Sep 30, 2014 #4

    Chronos

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    John Mitchell is a good choice, but, the speed of light was not known with much precision in the 18th century. It would be fair to say Mitchell was the first to recongnize the possibility of black holes.
     
  6. Sep 30, 2014 #5

    Simon Bridge

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    afaik Michell is generally credited, along with Pierre-Simon Laplace, with the earliest articulation of the ideas behind black hole physics.
    i.e. http://hubblesite.org/explore_astronomy/black_holes/encyc_mod3_q1.html


    I think way too much time and energy is wasted on asserting the various "who did it first" claims.
    We can safely leave it to the historians and concentrate on the, you know, science.
     
  7. Sep 30, 2014 #6

    Chronos

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    I agree, Simon, but, you must admit it makes for interesting discussion.
     
  8. Sep 30, 2014 #7

    Simon Bridge

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    Consider: "how little physics do you need to know about in order to understand black holes?"

    You see from the above that there were enough ideas floating around in the late 1700's that we could probably explain black hole physics to them [at least the top mathemticians and physicists] fairly quickly.

    More immediately, it gives us a clue about how early we can introduce students to advanced concepts.
    [i.e. We can introduce black holes, carefully, at secondary school level. This is way before tensor calculus, but we have to wait until after Newtonian gravitation and the concept of the escape velocity.]

    I'll submit: that's an interesting and useful thing to think about.

    The point of above is to encourage you (and others) to say, not only that something is "interesting", but to support that observation: why is it interesting? What is it about the topic that holds your attention? How about: in the context of these forums?
     
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